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AcTIVIST SPOTLIGHT


Swam Cumberland, Still Saving Rivers

Could you — or would you — swim the entire length of the Cumberland River for the sake of endangered wildlife? In 1996, Vic Scoggin — environmentalist, Tennessean, boat captain, Center supporter and much more — made the 696-mile swim to publicize the importance of saving the Cumberland and its diversity of species from water pollution. He’s gone to great lengths to save a Nashville crayfish population from being buried by a marina — with, he says, the help of Center materials — and he now wants to help the Center save the Obey crayfish. He’s helped with our campaigns for Southeast environmental causes (and others) since 2009.

Scoggin grew up on the Cumberland — a global biodiversity hotspot for freshwater mussels and fish — raised his children there and still lives on the river. He uses thousands of dollars of his own money to fight for the environment and has founded his own nonprofit organization, Save the Cumberland, to defend the Cumberland River watershed and the animals and plants that depend on it by using research, education and litigation.

Now he’s purchased a research vessel and assembled a team of researchers to document all species on the Cumberland (and other rivers) and the threats they face, from water pollution to waterside development. He’s already made a month-long, 3,000-mile journey along rivers to New York City, Atlantic City, N.J., Norfolk, Va., Wrightsville Beach, N.C., Charleston, S.C., Key West, Fla., Pensacola, Fla., Mobile, Ala., and everywhere in between.

In the future, Scoggin said, he’ll offer the services of the vessel — dubbed the Eastern Surveyor — to universities, government agencies, laboratories and research facilities to help educate the public on a variety of subjects pertaining to river environment.

Says Scoggin about why he does what he does: "You look at the mussels and the crayfish on the bottom of the stream, and that's our health right there. The health of the animals is the health of the water that we drink. People need to realize that we have got to protect these animals to protect our own health."

For more information, visit www.savethecumberland.org.
Then learn more about the Center’s own campaign to stop the Southeast freshwater extinction crisis.

Want to share your story in our Activist Spotlight?
A sea change can begin with an environmentalist boat captain — or maybe, it can begin with you. If you or someone you know has found a creative way to turn concern for the planet — and for endangered plants and animals — into change for the better, we'd like to share your story with the world. Send us your spotlight idea here.

And check out other activists we've honored here.

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Banner photo © Robin Silver